Introduction to the de Legibus

The De Legibus is a sequel to the De Re Publica; Cicero’s Laws are the laws of Cicero’s Republic.1 It appears to have been begun soon after the De Re Publica was finished, or perhaps even before the latter had received its final preparation for publication. Certain passages point to the year 52 b.c.;2 the work was evidently discontinued during Cicero’s provincial governorship (51–50 b.c.) and the Civil War (49–48 b.c.). In 46 b.c. Cicero’s literary activity was resumed; from then on until his death (43 b.c.) was the period of his greatest production of rhetorical and philosophic treatises. There is evidence that he was working on the De Legibus in 46 b.c.,3 and in the following year also.4 On the other hand, we know that it had not been published when De Divinatione was written in 44 b.c.,5 and we have no evidence whatever that Cicero ever finished it, or that it was published during his life. Yet the arguments adduced

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_legibus.1928